Staying on the Rails; Cardiff Busking Kings Railroad Bill Celebrate Their 25th Birthday This Week with a Hometown Shindig. Dave Owens Asked the Skiffle Legends for the 25 Moments That Tell the Sto Ory of an Outfit Who Have Been Permanently Stuck in the Foyer outside the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame E

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), October 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

Staying on the Rails; Cardiff Busking Kings Railroad Bill Celebrate Their 25th Birthday This Week with a Hometown Shindig. Dave Owens Asked the Skiffle Legends for the 25 Moments That Tell the Sto Ory of an Outfit Who Have Been Permanently Stuck in the Foyer outside the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame E


Byline: DaveOwens

IF you've ever walked around Cardiff in the last 25 years, you almost certainly would have happened on the city's most famous buskers, Railroad Bill, plying their trade.

The unstoppable Cardiff skiffle supremos formed in1986 and this year celebrate their 25th anniversary with a hometown show.

They don't actually play Cardiff that often, as they've built up quite a following internationally and are in regular demand at music festivals worldwide.

Three original members Dan Nichols (washboard), Chris Walker (tea chest) and Andy Baillie (mandolin/ukele) are still with them today.

Guitarists Geoff Haynes, Geoff Coates and Ian Apsey have also racked up 40 years between them in 'the band that time forgot'.

Here are their 25 most cherished memories...

1 Chris: My Dad had a load of old Lonnie Donegan records so we started off copying them - I don't remember much about our first gig. (Dan: - because he was blind drunk!) 2 Andy: In the early days in Cardiff we were mainly a busking act and were often canvassed by the Echo for our opinions on everything from mad cow disease to beer.

3 Dan: There were loads of tramps round the Hayes in those days, one afternoon they decided to dance around us with their trousers down. Our audience soon disappeared!

4 Andy: We started playing all over Cardiff and were regulars at the famous Meltdown nights in Chapter Bar in the late '80s, which was usually packed and sweaty, people used to randomly join you on stage, playing any instruments they could find.

5 Dan: We released a vinyl EP called 'Working on the Railroad', which still turns up in charity shops from time to time.

6 Chris: When the King of Skiffle Lonnie Donegan played St David's Hall we busked outside to raise cash for tickets. He must have seen us out of the window because he later told the audience we were 'bloody good'.

7 Dan: Many years later, shortly before Lonnie died, we had the pleasure of supporting him.

8 Andy: Promoters are usually happy with our performance, but not always - once we were chased out of Blaenavon Carnival by a woman dressed as Mrs Tiggywinkle.

Another time we were booked to play on the back of a van 9Dan: advertising a Mexican restaurant. As we lurched round a corner at 40 mph I fell over and my sombrero fell off. They refused to pay us complaining that we 'stopped half way round'.

10Chris: Around 1991 we went electric and began touring and playing festivals - security was lax then. We turned up at one in the Forest of Dean to discover that someone had stolen the stage!

11Dan: And at another in Fishguard the organisers abandoned the event half way through leaving 10,000 punters on site. It was so muddy we couldn't move the van anyway so we were one of the few bands to stay and play.

12Chris: Early on, when we weren't getting paid much we used to 'liberate' some of the headline acts' booze and hide it under the tea chest bass, which I would then sit on looking innocent. Thanks Jools Holland, the whiskey was delicious. …

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Staying on the Rails; Cardiff Busking Kings Railroad Bill Celebrate Their 25th Birthday This Week with a Hometown Shindig. Dave Owens Asked the Skiffle Legends for the 25 Moments That Tell the Sto Ory of an Outfit Who Have Been Permanently Stuck in the Foyer outside the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame E
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